New Year's Eve 2011 Denver: ten best free events

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It's been a long, economically uncertain year. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to ring in 2012 that won't cost a penny.

Here are our top ten:

10. Keystone New Year's Eve Celebration Yes, you'll have to get up to the mountain somehow, but once you're there, you can enjoy Keystone's free light show -- and there are also ice-skating options, a champagne bar, dinner and live music if you've got a little more cash to spend. Visit www.keystoneresort.com for full details.

9. Fireworks Over Granby Ranch The lights are a little brighter at Sol Vista at Granby Ranch this year, where there will be torchlight skiing, a glow-stick walking parade and fireworks, all completely free to watch. Bundle up and head for the hills! Visit www.solvista.com.

8. Winter Park: Grand Winter Sports Carnival Rail Jam and Celebration On your way to Granby Ranch, enjoy Winter Park's Grand Winter Sports Carnival, which will include a rail jam, skating races and skijoring (which involves skis and a horse -- the best free entertainment you've seen all year). The carnival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is totally free to attend; visit www.winterparkresort.com.

7. The Lobby American Grille: Roaring '20s Party If you want to stay close to home, check in at the Lobby. The restaurant will host a Roaring '20s party, complete with DJs and dancing, plus food and drinks, that starts at 8 p.m. Get there early, though; it's free until 10 p.m., when admission bumps up to $10. for more information, call 303-997-9911 or visit www.thelobbydenver.com.

6. Sienna Wine Bar & Small Plates Although it would help to have enough cash to get a glass of wine (especially since there will be drink specials), Sienna will be hosting a no-cover party that includes party favors and a midnight toast. And the company is definitely free. Call 303-355-2202 or visit www.siennawinebar.com.

5. Dougherty's Neighborhood Restaurant and Pub Don't let your cash-strapped situation scare you away from Dougherty's on New Year's Eve. The 21-and-up bash will feature drink specials and a surf-and-turf dinner, but even if you don't have enough money for dinner, you can join in the champagne toast and party favors. And if you get neighborly enough with someone, maybe they'll buy you a drink! Call 303-777-5210 or visit www.doughertysrestaurant.com.

4. Whiskey Bar: Party With the Pros Pro partiers who don't have two pennies to rub together should consider Party with the Pros at Whiskey Bar, which includes a free midnight champagne toast and drink specials, too. Call 303-297-0303 or visit www.whiskeybardenver.com.

3. Tooey's Off Colfax Celebrate what could be the last New Year's Eve before Armageddon at Tooey's, which will feature turntablists Cysko Rokwel and Es-9 dropping tunes, plus a midnight champagne toast, the ubiquitous drink specials and more -- all for no cover charge. Rocking. Call 303-586-5075 or visit www.tooeysoffcolfax.com.

2. The Bar Want a DJ to dance to? The Bar will have one. Drink specials? That, too. Midnight champagne toast? Of course. And all for no cover. Call 303-733-0122 or visit www.itsthebar.com.

1. Downtown Fireworks There's a reason the 16th Street Mall is always freaking packed on New Year's Eve -- the downtown fireworks are spectacular, and with one show for early birds at 9 p.m. and another for night owls at midnight, plus costumed entertainment (magicians, mascots, balloon artists, stilt walkers, comedians and more) -- all for zero dollars and zero cents, you can pack your hot toddy in a thermos, bundle up and enjoy the countdown. For free. Visit www.downtowndenver.com.

More New Year's Eve lists

- New Year's Eve: Mountain celebrations - New Year's Eve: family-friendly events - New Year's Eve: comedy events - New Year's Eve: nightlife events

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